NFL's Ryan Shazier Catches Footballs Nearly 2 Years After Devastating Spinal Injury
Ryan Shazier suffered a severe spine injury during a game in December 2017
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier is getting back to business nearly two years after suffering a severe spine injury.
Shazier, 26, was on the field with his teammates Sunday during warmups ahead of the Steelers’ preseason match against the Tennessee Titans and showed off the impressive progress he’s made since his devastating injury.
The athlete was seen on video shared by ESPN’s Turron Davenport as he walked unassisted, and even repeatedly caught and tossed footballs with one hand.
His progress comes 20 months after Shazier was involved in a head-on hit while attempting to tackle a Cincinnati Bengals player on Dec. 4, 2017.
He was initially unable to move his legs, and after he was found to have experienced a spinal contusion, doctors were uncertain if he’d ever walk again.
He underwent a stabilization surgery two days after the incident and was released from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center after two months of rehab and physical therapy.
Four months after the collision, Shazier shocked and inspired fans when he walked across the stage at the 2018 NFL Draft accompanied by his now-wife, prompting the crowd to break out into applause.
Shazier previously showed off the strides he’s made in May, when he was seen dancing to Montell Jordan’s “This Is How We Do It” during his wedding to Michelle Rodriguez in Pittsburgh.
Despite his setbacks, Shazier hasn’t let go of his football dreams, telling NFL.com that he hopes to play once again, and has his sights set on the Hall of Fame.
“My end goal is to allow the Lord to let me come back and play at the high level that I was before,” he said. “Every day I try to get better. I strive for the Hall of Fame and I was doing that through this year, the whole time I was playing. And I still do that while I’m doing rehab.”
He added, “I know it’s still a possibility. I have the Lord and he has my back and I constantly feel I’m going to come back and play football.”
The Steelers announced in March that his contract would be tolled into 2019, meaning he’ll stay on the team’s roster for the year and will eventually be placed on the Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform List.
Tolling means that Shazier will be paid a salary commensurate with his years of service on the NFL, he’ll continue to accrue seasons toward his NFL players’ pension, and he’ll keep his medical insurance plan, the Steelers explained in a statement.
“We will continue to support Ryan’s efforts to return to play,” said General Manager Kevin Colbert. “Although he won’t be able to help us on the field in 2019, his leadership, insight, and emotional support have always been very valuable to us, and we look forward to his contributions in our pursuit of a championship.”